[CT Birds] Fw: Re: quiz - The Answer

greg hanisek ctgregh at yahoo.com
Sun Aug 29 19:29:01 EDT 2010


As most (or many or some) of you have realized after I posted the second photo, the bird is a juvenile Brown-headed Cowbird. This kind of photo quiz is fun and proves primarily how difficult it can be to identify a bird from a single photo, especially one as misleading as Mark's first shot.
 
It was interesting that most of the incorrect responses hinged on broad interpretation of the image. Size and posture started viewers down a wrong path, and once you start in a wrong direction it's hard to reverse course. Because the bird was perceived as large, and it's erect posture was perceived as it's normal posture, many people suggested it was a cormorant, a night-heron, a duck (specifically juv Green-winged Teal) or a raptor.
 
The quiz was doubly tricky because juvenile Brown-headed Cowbird, even when seen well, routinely trips up birders that aren't very familiar with the species in that plumage. There's an Audubon painting in which juv cowbird is labeled "Ambiguous Sparrow." David Irons, a migratory bird expert with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, has gone so far as to call it "the most misidentified bird in North America."
 
As far as getting the first image right, I'd say a close look at the bird's feet help turn the viewer away from the big bird-waterbird-raptor path and point toward it being a passerine. If any of the 4 of you who immediately got this right would like to post on your thought process, I'm sure others would be interested.
 
Greg Hanisek
Waterbury
 

--- On Sat, 8/28/10, Greg Hanisek <ghanisek at rep-am.com> wrote:


From: Greg Hanisek <ghanisek at rep-am.com>
Subject: Re: [CT Birds] quiz - solution (sort of)
To: ctbirds at lists.ctbirding.org
Date: Saturday, August 28, 2010, 8:33 PM


The answers to the quiz were all over the lot. I'll say more about them eventually, but for now I've replaced the original quize photo with a different view of the bird which should clear things up considerably. You still have to name it though. Four people did based on the original photo.

http://blogs.rep-am.com/nature/2010/08/27/quiz-maybe-not-a-fair-one/

Greg Hanisek
Waterbury


----- Original Message ----- From: "Greg Hanisek" <ghanisek at rep-am.com>
To: "Greg Hanisek" <ghanisek at rep-am.com>
Sent: Friday, August 27, 2010 8:38 PM
Subject: Re: [CT Birds] quiz - update


> I've gotten quite an array of answers to the photo quiz. I won't say anything about that array at the moment but I promised a hint. Here's one (such as it is):
> 
> David B. Irons, who works in migratory bird management for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, has called this "the most misidentified bird in North America."
> 
> Actually, Mark told me Mr. Irons said this, so he's responsible for both the photo and the clue.  If you haven't checked it out, the link is below. If you're up for an answer, e-mail it to me, rather than posting it on the blog.
> 
> Greg Hanisek
> 
> ----- Original Message ----- From: "Greg Hanisek" <ghanisek at rep-am.com>
> To: <ctbirds at lists.ctbirding.org>
> Sent: Thursday, August 26, 2010 10:18 PM
> Subject: [CT Birds] quiz - maybe not a fair one
> 
> 
>> Try your luck/skill
>> 
>> 
>> Greg Hanisek
>> Waterbury
>> _______________________________________________
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> 
> 
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